My mom's here, under the same roof. I'm brain-freezing. It's been good; the Timekeeper makes excellent referee. I'm just too brain-frozen to write. What if I bleed?

So here is something originally posted in '08, with a compulsive touch of the '11.

"To those we love best we say the least." – Philippine proverb.  When Ammu sneezed, she gusted.

Ammu sneezed in continuous bouts, in bitter chains triggered by the need to cleanse in a exploding bursts. She sneezed in the mornings, when her bodily fluids were readjusting from fetal to vertical. She sneezed in the evenings, when darkness pushed in with the finality of sleep.

She sneezed hardest and most persistent when frustration stuck in her nasal passage and her sinuses bloated with discomfort. She sneezed until her face turned red, her eyes filled with tears, and her ears twanged in a dizzying ring.

One morning, Ammu's ever so often sneezing bouts coincided with Appu's ever so rare visits. Appu, who is Ammu's only daughter, hardly has been home, especially since Ammu's explosive sneezes launched her to study sneeziology.

On this very rare morning, Appu quietly decided to take on the mucous hail that sheathed Ammu face and hair, in a way no child should ever transgress without the elders' permission. She sat in front of our wheezing, sneezing Ammu, then - to our horror - she pressed both of her thumbs an inch behind Ammu's hairline, unplugging the sneezes that fed on Ammu's soul.

Right when we thought the Ammu's spittle might soak Apu's hair and shiny foreigner's clothes, Ammu seemed to have forgotten how to sneeze.  They sat in a puddle of mucous and tears and shaken-dust that slowly submerged into where all sneezes are forgotten, and the air around them calmed with antihistaminic glow.

"Look what you've done," Ammu scolded in between hollow breaths of half-sneeze and half-relief, "I lost my sneeze."

We haven't seen Appu again since that morning, and Ammu refuses to hear of her. But once in a while, when she thinks that she's alone with an approaching sneeze, she would follow the trace of fingers that Appu had left behind her hairline, to press and pass on the longing for our missing sister, into the forgiving earth.


"Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns all clean."  - Maya Angelou

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